How a Democratic U.S. House could alter foreign policy

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – Democrats will use their new majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to reverse what they see as a hands-off approach by Republicans toward President Donald Trump's foreign policy, and push for tougher dealings with Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Rep. Eliot Engel, the Democrat in line to head the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said they may also push for congressional authorization for the use of military force in places like Iraq and Syria. But on some hot-button areas, like China and Iran, he acknowledged there was little they could do to change the status quo. Now that they have taken control of the 435-member House of Representatives for the first time since 2011, Democrats will decide what legislation is considered in the chamber and have a bigger role in setting spending policy and writing legislation. "I don't think we should challenge something just because it's put forth by the administration, but I do think we have an obligation to review policies and do oversight," Engel said in a telephone interview.


A new MuddyWater Campaign spreads Powershell-based PRB-Backdoor

#artificialintelligence

Security experts at Trend Micro have spotted a new attack relying on weaponized Word documents and PowerShell scripts that appears related to the MuddyWater cyber-espionage campaign. The first MuddyWater campaign was observed in late 2017, then researchers from Palo Alto Networks were investigating a mysterious wave of attacks in the Middle East. The experts called the campaign'MuddyWater' due to the confusion in attributing these attacks that took place between February and October 2017 targeting entities in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Georgia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United States to date. Threat actors used PowerShell-based first stage backdoor named POWERSTATS, across the time the hackers changed tools and techniques. In March 2018, experts at FireEye uncovered a massive phishing campaign conducted by TEMP.Zagros group (another name used by the experts to track the MuddyWater), targeting Asia and Middle East regions from January 2018 to March 2018.


China's cheaper armed drones now flying across Mideast battlefields

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – High above Yemen's rebel-held city of Hodeida, a drone controlled by Emirati forces hovered as an SUV carrying a top Shiite Houthi rebel official turned onto a small street and stopped, waiting for another vehicle in its convoy to catch up. Seconds later, the SUV exploded in flames, killing Saleh al-Samad, a top political figure. The drone that fired that missile in April was not one of the many American aircraft that have been buzzing across the skies of Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. Across the Middle East, countries locked out of purchasing U.S.-made drones due to rules over excessive civilian casualties are being wooed by Chinese arms dealers, the world's main distributor of armed drones. "The Chinese product now doesn't lack technology, it only lacks market share," said Song Zhongping, a Chinese military analyst and former lecturer at the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force University of Engineering.


Trump: Saudi to pay 'necessary money' to help rebuild Syria

Al Jazeera

US President Donald Trump has said Saudi Arabia will spend the "necessary money" to help reconstruct war-torn Syria, without offering any details. Trump's comments on Monday came days after he took to Twitter to announce the withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops from Syria while also abruptly declaring victory over ISIL in the country. The surprising decision on Wednesday contradicted his own experts' assessments and sparked surprise and anger among some of Washington's allies. On Monday, in his latest unexpected foreign policy statement made on Twitter, Trump said Riyadh would step in to support Syria following the US military withdrawal. "Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States. "Isn't it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbours rather than a Great Country, the US, that is 5,000 miles away.


If you want to see the future of your city, take a look at these 3 places

#artificialintelligence

Many large cities (Seoul, Tokyo, Shenzhen, Singapore, Dubai, London, San Francisco) serve as test beds for autonomous vehicle trials in a competitive race to develop "self-driving" cars. Automated ports and warehouses are also increasingly automated and robotised. Testing of delivery robots and drones is gathering pace beyond the warehouse gates. Automated control systems are monitoring, regulating and optimising traffic flows. Automated vertical farms are innovating production of food in "non-agricultural" urban areas around the world.